I just wanted to share a little personal history with all of you about my early years of gaming. This article is mostly going to deal with the totally radical Sega Genesis, or Mega Drive as it’s known outside of the states. For me, this console had so many great games on it, and I feel that it’s being severely overlooked in the retro gaming community as of late. I know that going up against a juggernaut like Nintendo is a very hard thing to do and, when most people think retro, they are referring to the classic Nintendo Entertainment System. Not me, man. When I think retro gaming, that blue blur comes speeding into my brain and I hear that famous Sega boot-up noise. Anyway, this intro is getting long enough; let’s start breaking down why I think this little system-that-could should get a little more attention.
Okay, now a gaming console is only as good as its games. Well, unless they red-ring and you can’t play the games, but that’s besides the point. The Sega Genesis library was fantastic and it has a diverse range that extends further than just Sonic The Hedgehog. To prove my point, I am going to list off 12 games that aren’t Sonic games that you should totally check out!
Well, for anyone that knows me, it should come as no surprise that this game starts off a list on games I recommend to grab up. The first Streets of Rage was fairly mediocre, although still enjoyable, but this game upped the ante by making the controls very fluid and the fighting super satisfying. In the first game, everyone had a special attack, as is custom in most side-scrolling beat-’em-ups. The only downside was…well, they were lame; it would be a cop car pulling up and shooting a rpg…that’s it, and it also stopped the action of the game to play the animation. This time around each character got his or her own special and it was seamless with the action; no slowing down. Also, something note-worthy to mention is the music: it is is superb, probably some of the best on the Genesis! Next game!!
Oh, Comix Zone! I freaking love and hate this game at the same time. The idea of Comix Zone is that you are the creator of this comic book and the villain within the pages wants you dead. So, during a thunderstorm, some lighting shoots into your apartment, strikes a page and brings the villain to life (oh, that magic 90’s lighting). Doing so makes him able to put you into the comic book…somehow, and you have to fight your way back out. The fighting in the game is amazing and sometimes makes you feel invincible, but that won’t matter because the game is incredibly hard, almost legendary, in it’s difficulty. Still, it’s a beautiful game with comic book style graphics, great fighting and a good challenge. This game is a must for collectors of the Sega Genesis.
Shining Force is a little-known RPG on the Genesis, but oh boy is it a good game. I wouldn’t have ever known this existed if it wasn’t for having the Sega Channel growing up. What’s that you say? What’s the Sega channel? Well, the Sega channel was a service through your cable provider that allowed you to download a plethora of games to your Genesis and it’s selection would change every month. Well, one month they had both Shining Force and Shining Force 2 on at the same time. I spent almost no time outside because I made it a goal to beat both games that month, once I tried the first game. The story for both games is very in-depth for a 16-bit game and the graphics are pretty good. The style is a top-down perspective and once you get into battle, you have to move your characters around the battlefield using the highlighted spots allowed to that character. So, think Final Fantasy Tactics but a little easier. As you go through the story, you gain more friends in your journey, and I think, once you get everyone, you will be managing like 10 plus people in a battle, so things can get intense. Easily, one of my favorite games and they have been making titles in this series ever since.
Okay, I know what you are thinking: “Jurassic Park was on every system back then.” And you would be right. The only thing is…those other games kinda sucked. The one on the Super Nintendo was a top-down almost Diablo-esque dungeon crawler, the NES version was okay for what it was and let’s not even talk about the 3DO or CD-I Jurassic Park games. This game was just a classic side-scrolling adventure as Dr. Allen Grant inside the Jurassic Park complex. The graphics were dark and well animated. I will never forget the opening cinematic of the T-Rex breaking out of it’s zone and the screen going into a strobe effect as the T-Rex destroys Alan’s Jeep. This game is a must when collecting for the Sega Genesis!
Now, I would be a real asshole if I didn’t bring up Splatterhouse 3. This game is fantastic!! It improves the Splatterhouse series without getting rid of anything that made it great. Filled with tons of gore and throwbacks to almost every horror icon, this game is sure to quench any maniac’s thirst for blood and violence. The idea of the game is simple: move from room to room and bash in the skulls of all that oppose you to save your girlfriend. With a pretty decent difficulty curve and multiple endings, you get your money’s worth out of the game. It’s a little higher on the rarity scale than the other games I’ve mentioned so far, but it’s worth every penny.
Since we are in the territory of spooky scary skeletons, I feel like I should bring up Castlevania Bloodlines. Yes, that’s right! There was a Castlevania game on the Genesis. I feel like this one kinda got overlooked because (as much as it pains me to admit this) Super Castlevania 4 on the SNES is a superior game and more people focused on that entry in the series. Still, this game is actually very good. It doesn’t have the control that Castlevania 4 has with whipping in every direction and controlling your jumps, but it’s still better than most in the series before it. The graphics are top-notch and fit in well in the Castlevania series, bosses are very difficult and the soundtrack is jamming. One thing to note, you don’t play as a Belmont in this game. You can choose between two characters: John Morris and Eric Lecarde. John uses the classic whip and Eric uses a spear. Since each one has different attack styles, you get a little bit of variation, which is nice. Again, this one is pretty rare and fetches a fair price, still it’s a solid Castlevania game and a great addition to any collection.
Dear God is this game good, and also very rare. While the SNES had the amazing Turtles in Time game, the Genesis didn’t get left out of the party. Hyper Stone Heist plays very similar to Turtles in Time, and the graphic style isn’t very far off either. As with most Konami beat-’em-ups, it is hard as hell and, without a code, you will find it pretty hard to beat the game. Still, that never stopped co-host Will and I from going through this game on several sittings. Come to think of it, I think every year Will and I beat a TMNT beat-’em-up, and we don’t even try to make that a goal; it just happens! Just do yourself a favor and get Hyper Stone Heist and stay far away from TMNT tournament fighter. Look, I know it’s a rare game too, but it really is ass, and games like that are why divorces and break-ups happen. Just say no, kids!
I think a fair amount of people know about Ristar, but I also think that it wasn’t around long enough that it seemed to have slipped through the cracks. Ristar came out around the end of Genesis’ lifespan; yaknow, right around the time Sega mouth-raped it with the 32X expansion in hopes of making it last a couple more years…yeah, remember that? Yeah, I love Sega, but I’m not proud of everything that they did. Still, there are good games on the 32X, but that’s for a different article. Anyway, I found Ristar through that magical Sega Channel once again. Looking at it, I didn’t have much hope for it, but it’s a good platformer that I think holds its own next to the Sonic games. Unlike other side-scrollers where you jump on enemies to kill them, Ristar can extend his arms to grab the enemy and then pull himself in to bash them with his skull (I know, metal as fuck, right?). You can also use this attack style to help you move faster through the extremely well detailed and colorful levels. This game isn’t as rare as some of the previous mentioned, but you would be a fool not to put it into your collection.
Holy shit, this game is a freaking adrenaline rush of explosions and carnage. Now, I liked the Contra games on the NES and SNES, but I feel like Contra was one of those games that belonged on the Genesis. The soundtrack is loud and utilizes that classic Genesis guitar synthesizer sound every chance it gets, not to mention filling every inch of the screen with explosions. To me, it’s a match made in Heaven! Like other games in the Contra library, this game is hard, almost in the legendary category. You will be begging for extra lives, even with that classic 30 lives code. It’s not too hard to get your hands on this game, but the price is still on the higher end ( I know, I hate the logic behind retro game prices too). If you’re looking for ball-busting action, then look no further…or you could consider the next game as well.
This is a personal favorite of mine and I beat this dirty son-of-a-bitch on multiple occasions. With its cartoony look and fast-paced run-and-gun action, Gunstar Heroes is kind of a mix between Contra and Sunset Riders. Just hold down that fire button, keep running right and just hope you don’t get hit by the millions of bullets flooding the screen. Every level is pretty challenging and they switch up the play style too. My favorite level is when you are sliding down the side of an Egyptian temple at break-neck speeds, shooting in all directions and explosions are firing off all around you. Even is you aren’t collecting for the Genesis, you can pick this up on the Xbox Live arcade. And you should; it’s a fantastic game that doesn’t get enough praise!
Okay, okay, I get it…Street Fighter 2? Wasn’t that on like every console known to man? Well, you would be right, it was; however, if you want to play Street Fighter on Sega Genesis, then this was the game to get! It was a pretty good port of Street Fighter 2 and came with a turbo mode and some additional characters. This was one of my favorite games on the Genesis and my brothers and I would play this a lot! So maybe it’s on this list for sentimental reasons, but hey it’s my article so…yeah. It’s cheap, it’s not hard to find and it’s Street Fighter 2! Just buy it already!
I’m going to end on a game that I know for a fact didn’t get much time in the limelight, again because it came out during a time when the Genesis was coming to a close, and you could also get it on the Sega Saturn. Besides some better music, the Sega Saturn version was exactly the same; however, in my personal opinion, the Genesis version was better. Thanks again to the almighty Sega Channel, I found this game and fell in love with it. The best way to describe it is: think Legend of Zelda, actually. You play as a prince that is trying to rid a darkness from his kingdom and you have to traverse several dungeons, getting better equipment and leveling up along the way. Also, it uses a top-down view for the game play. Most of the game takes place on island-like levels and water is a heavy influence in the game. The graphics are very colorful, has fluid animations and responsive controls. The only downsides I can think of is the music is kind of ass and the game does not hold your hand. You will find yourself lost almost 75% of the time, but for those true adventurers, it’s worth a look.
To end my Sega Genesis rant I will leave you with one of my favorite commercials!!!
Well, that ends my list of 12 games that you should consider collecting for the Sega Genesis! What are some of your favorite games for the Genesis? Would you like me to give even more recommendations? Just let me know in the comments our hit me up at The Grinded Word on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/grindedword! You can also listen to The Grinded Word’s podcast: Grindcast! New episodes go up every Monday and Friday at https://www.grindcast.libsyn.com and search for us on iTunes and iHeartRadio!! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your time with me! There are more articles to come, so check back again soon!
As always, thank you so much for reading and please join us next time!!!
All games and images are copyright of their respected publishers and distributors.
Images were gathered from https://www.wikipedia.org.
Video was borrowed from YouTube channel: SuperGameclassic